But for two pitches Thursday night, the Quad Cities River Bandits may have been looking at some franchise history.|
Instead, they had to settle for a thrilling 2-1, 12-inning Class A Midwest League victory over the Kane County Cougars at Modern Woodmen Park.
As it turned out, a run at history by starting pitcher Jonathan Cornelius almost ended up being a side note by the time the three-plus hour game ended. But what Cornelius started with his bid for a perfect game was closed out by fellow pitchers Yunior Castillo, Heath Wyatt and Ethan Cole (4-1) as they combined for a spiffy two-hitter in which they totaled a whopping 16 strikeouts and issued no walks.
The victory, along with Clinton's 3-1 win over Burlington kept QC's hopes of a playoff bid alive. The Bandits (31-35 in the second half, 66-69 overall) come into tonight's game with Kane County still one loss or one Burlington victory from elimination.
The Bandits, who stranded runners in scoring position six times after the second inning, finally managed to end it in the 12th off Kane County's third pitcher, Malcom Culver (2-1). Barely.
Nick Martini led off the frame with a solid single and moved to third on Colin Walsh's single up the middle. Stephen Piscotty, who was 3-for-5 with an RBI then was plunked to load the bases. Gary Apelian, who came into the game in the seventh, then lofted a soft liner to right-center.
"Martini was going on whatever was hit,'' said QC manager Luis Aguayo.
With Martini speeding down the line, Cougar rightfielder Luis Aparicio (who homered off Castillo in the eighth for KC's lone run) came up with a solid throw to the plate. Martini's slide through catcher Kevin David was just in time.
While Cornelius didn't factor in the decision, he was a big part of the victory. Making it especially gratifying was the fact that he was ripped by the same Cougar clan for 10 hits and five earned runs in 2.2 inning in his last start.
"In all, I think that's my best pro outing so far,'' said the St. Louis Cardinals' 24th-round draft pick of the 2011 draft. "My last outing, that team hit me all over the place, so I was glad to get some redemption.''
The game was Cornelius's until he gave up a hit and that came from KC leadoff man Justin Trapp leading off the seventh. Even that, according to Aguayo, was a good pitch that was down and in to the right-handed hitter who inside-outed it to the gap in right-center.
Cornelius left the game after that hit with nine strikeouts, a season high.
"I'm not sure if I'm pitching anymore this year,'' said Cornelius, who has a 1-2 record in 23 games (just eight starts). "If that's it, it's a good way to go out. It really gives me some motivation for the off-season.''
Cornelius had some nice defense behind him as he kept alive the perfect game. Shortstop Matt Williams, who walked and scored QC's first run on Piscotty's RBI single to right, snared a hard liner to end the fifth. Apelian, in right field, then made a great running catch into the gap to end the seventh.
Notables: It was a busy night at the ballpark on Thirsty Thursday. It was All Pro Custom Tattoo Night that kept the local artists busy in the MediaCom Sports Lounge. Fans, who were still standing in line at 11 p.m. And past the game's conclusion, could get River Bandits tattoos to earn season tickets for next season and business was brisk all night. The Bettendorf Middle School band also entertained before the game. … Thursday's crowd was 3,896.
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